Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Karandavasana. Not so bad.

This morning, I tried Karandavasana for the first time in almost a year. The whole thing went quite well, considering that I did not originally intend to do Karandavasana when I first began my practice this morning.

Basically, I did full primary and second up to Pincha Mayurasana. After I got out of Pincha, I thought to myself, "My knees are feeling quite good today. And I think I still have some energy left to do another forearm balance. And since I have been doing all those lotuses in headstand over the last week or so, I feel pretty confident about my ability to do lotus in an inverted position. Moreover, I already have come all the way to Pincha; why not go a little further, and give Karandavasana a shot?" And so up I went. I tried the pose three times. Here's a quick breakdown of the three attempts:

(1) Went up into Pincha, and then slowly closed my right knee joint. As I was trying to move my right foot to my left hip crease, I lost my balance, and had to come back down.

(2) Basically the same result as (1).

(3) After resting in a kneeling position for about 30 seconds or so, I gave Karandavasana another shot. This time, I had better luck. I succeeded in moving my right foot into the left hip crease without losing balance. And then I moved my left foot on top of my right thigh, and got into lotus. Still balancing on my forearms, I then tried to slowly move my knees to rest on my upper arms. But about halfway down, I lost control of the speed of the descent, and I almost came crashing down. I say almost, because I somehow managed to regain a little control just before my knees hit the mat, and lifted my hips just enough for me to land semi-gracefully in a seated padmasana. Is there a name for this pose? Sitting Duck Posture, maybe?  :-)

Basically, I thought this wasn't so bad for a first Karandavasana attempt in almost a year. Tomorrow's a moon day, so I'll try again on Thursday. If you have any feedback/suggestions/advice, I would love to hear them.

This is NOT me in Karandavasana.


  1. Hi Nobel, that's great that you managed to get into padmasana on your third attempt, just shows your work in shoulderstand laid a great foundation. When my teacher gave me this pose I was a bit overwhelmed by how I would work at it at home. He told me to just work at coming into lotus holding that and then releasing it, rather than trying to land it. I am really grateful I did that as it gave me a stable foundation. Look forward to reading about your journey with this one. Are you going to split your practice?

  2. Thanks Helen. Hmm... Maybe I should also work on holding lotus longer and fostering more stability before trying to land it. I think I'm going to hold off on splitting for at least a few more weeks. I can't help feeling that the reason why I tweaked my knee last year while going into Karandavasana is because there wasn't openness in the external rotators. And I feel that doing primary series (with all its padmasana variations) really helps in this regard. So I think I'm going to stick with this super-long practice for a while more.

  3. Yes your right, primary is great for opening the hips, your plan makes sense and you seem okay with your long practice for now. Being split took some adjusting (for me anyhow) but you have been through this process before which must help.

  4. ..."Sitting Duck"...love it! :)

  5. Thanks Helen. As they say, there is a right time for everything, and I think this applies to splitting too :-)

    Christine, :-)

  6. Yes, I am no expert at Karandavasana, but your first problem is apparent when you say "I then tried to slowly move my knees to rest on my upper arms". I tried to do this at first, and I've seen many people try to do this--including as recently as this morning, when an unfamiliar girl who dropped into Mysore class got to Karandavasana, came up and got the lotus, and came crashing down immediately. You do need to be very stable in lotus and bee in complete control when you start to curl down into the pose. Spending 10-15 breaths (or working up to that) in forearm lotus, then releasing lotus and exiting, will be valuable work. You really do need to be stable there (I worked on this somewhat indirectly because it took me so darn long to get into lotus for a couple of months, especially on the first attempt). As far as coming all the way down to rest on the arms, you can certainly try, but most likely you'll have a couple of problems with this: in particular, you'll probably not have rounded the spine enough, and you'll also not realize how far forward you need to come and when during the descent you need to do this. Getting an assist in this is invaluable (it was for me, at least). If you can find a way to get an assist in this every day for 2-4 weeks, that might give you a good sense of the feeling, but even once or twice will be great. For now, at most, I might suggest working on the first part of the action. Once stable in Picha w/ lotus, slowly curl the knees/legs/lotus around the sacrum. And really exaggerated bandhas. For a while, I concentrated on those two things: "curl around sacrum" and "bandhas". I focused on sounding those two things in my head and repeating to myself--I found that incredibly helpful for at least a couple of months until I didn't really need to do it anymore. Once you feel curled, undo the curl, coming back into lotus in Pincha position, and exit. That might be enough to work on until you can work on it w/ a teacher. But that's just a suggestion--I think there are many ways to develop the pose.

  7. Thanks for your feedback and suggestions, Frank. As always, they are very helpful and illuminating. Yes, I'll go with your suggestion, and work on staying in lotus for 10 to 15 breaths first, and then work on slowly curling the knees/legs/lotus around the sacrum, with bandha control.

    Good. Now I have something concrete to work on. Thanks!